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The Best Things To Do in Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Rarotonga is seriously a dream.  Whether you are looking for a place to visit with fun & adventurous activities, or just a gorgeous beach to relax on all day, Rarotonga has you covered.  There are so many amazing things to do in Rarotonga for everyone!

As always, I love to research everywhere I go and find the absolute best things to do that aren’t just touristy, but are more of a local experience.  I luckily know someone who lives in Rarotonga, so maybe I’m biased, but this list is the best of the best.

Enjoy my suggestions of things to do in Rarotonga!

Where to Stay

The Wellesley Hotel–  I could not recommend this hotel more.  From the moment we arrived, we were treated like family by the staff and were so well taken care of.  When we got home from a night out, they offered to open the kitchen for us in case we hadn’t eaten.  Things like that made the staff at the Wellesley really stand out.

It is a very quiet hotel that is right in the main town and is walking distance from the Saturday market, but in a nice secluded spot.  It felt like our own home away from home… Well, if my home had a gorgeous pool and amazing restaurant attached!

We had the best time spending days by the pool, sipping on beautiful cocktails and snacking on their fresh made food.  Keep the fresh tropical fruit platters with homemade coconut yogurt coming!Wellesley_Hotel_Things_To_Do_in_Rarotonga_Ciaofelicia

The whole time we stayed at the Wellesley, there was no one else using the gorgeous pool area, so we had it all to ourselves!  It doesn’t get better than that.

The Wellesley is a perfect hotel to relax and spend some time away from everything and everyone.  It was truly the ideal hotel for our time on Rarotonga.

Best Things to Do in Rarotonga

Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruise Our cruise with Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruises was outstanding.  Our captains and guides were so fun and friendly throughout the afternoon.  As we arrived, they were playing live music right on the gorgeous beach front.  It was a little slice of heaven.  The tour guides kept us laughing with the kind of jokes that deserve a belly laugh instead of the usual half giggle we have to give any other tour guide to be polite.Captain_tamas_lagoon_cruise_Things_To_Do_in_Rarotonga_Ciaofelicia

Snorkeling was gorgeous!  We saw a few turtles, a bright blue starfish, and giant oysters along with many many other colorful fish.

We were then taken to a private little island where our fresh fish lunch was ready.  I am quite a picky eater and I was so impressed with the lunch we were provided!

Our day finished with a couple of hilarious and informative shows and a short ride back to shore.

We truly enjoyed our day with Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruises.

Progressive Dinner at Local’s Homes- One of my absolute favorite things to do in Rarotonga was the Progressive Dinner.  The Progressive Dinner gives travelers the opportunity to be welcomed into locals homes and share a meal with them.  It was outstanding and such a unique experience that I will never forget.

We were picked up from our accommodation and taken to home #1 where we were each given a flower and drink.  We got to meet the family and were given a tour of the property to learn about the history of the home and family.  We had the most delicious homemade appetizer and there was more food than we could finish.

At home #2 we had our main meal that was presented as a buffet of so many unique and delicious foods that were both familiar and new to me.  The wife and her “house boy” who hosted the main meal were hilarious and had the whole group in love with them by the time we left.Progressive_Dinner_Things_To_Do_in_Rarotonga_Ciaofelicia

At home #3, dessert, coffee, and tea were served.  What a perfect end to a great night.

The food that we were served on the Progressive Dinner was definitely the best food that I had on my trip to Rarotonga.  It was so fun and educational to get to share a meal with the local families and learn about them.  I also loved that we got to meet other travelers and enjoy their company over dinner as well.

Weaving Class at Pacific Wave- Another one of my favorite activities was taking a weaving lesson at Pacific Weave.  We booked a private session for $25 each for a full hour of weaving lessons from a local.  It was so fun to spend that time with her and to hear her stories.  She told us about how she learned to weave when she was 9 years old and she told some us things her grandma would tell her when she was just learning to weave.Pacific_Weave_class_Things_To_Do_in_Rarotonga_Ciaofelicia

We got to choose what we wanted to make, and we chose to make flowers that we could wear in our hair.  We used leaves from the coconut trees that had been dyed to weave our flowers.

It was such a fun and unique way to spend our afternoon in Rarotonga.  I loved that we got to spend time with a local and learn a new skill from her!  Plus we got an amazing souvenir out of it!

 

Honorable Mentions

Saturday Morning Market in Town-  We loved walking around the market, having a fresh fruit smoothie, checking out all of the locally made goods, and watching the show.  You can’t miss the Saturday Market!  It is open until around noon.saturday_market_smoothie_Things_To_Do_in_Rarotonga_Ciaofelicia

Black Rock-  A gorgeous little spot that was secluded and had perfectly clear water.  Don’t have enough Instagram pictures of your trip yet?  Go here!black_rock_Things_To_Do_in_Rarotonga_Ciaofelicia

The Abandoned Sheraton Resort- You can find the abandoned resort on the South Coast of the island along the main road.  You technically aren’t supposed to go in, but who likes rules anyways?  Legend has it that the resort was cursed before it was finished, and now you can explore what’s left of it!abandoned_hotel_Things_To_Do_in_Rarotonga_Ciaofelicia

Cross Island Trek-  The one thing I wish I would have done while I was in Rarotonga was the Cross Island Trek.  The views from up there are supposed to be pretty amazing, but I’ve heard that the trek is not an easy one.

Where to Eat & Drink

Cook’s Fudge Factory- The best dessert on the island!  They serve so many fun flavors of fudge (and will give you all the free samples)!  I, of course, had to get both fudge and ice cream.  It may look like your average ice cream, but trust me when I say it was definitely not average.  The ice cream was so delicious, but the cone seriously might have been the best ice cream cone I’ve ever had.  They make them fresh daily, and oh man are they good!dessert_fudge_ice_cream_Things_To_Do_in_Rarotonga_Ciaofelicia

Night Market at Muri Beach- Make sure to get dinner at least one night at the Muri Beach Night Market.  There is so much locally made food, I seriously wanted it all.night_market_Things_To_Do_in_Rarotonga_Ciaofelicia

Trader Jack’s-  We had lunch at Trader Jack’s right by the water.  I ordered the poke bowl and it was so good.  SO good.trader_jacks_Things_To_Do_in_Rarotonga_Ciaofelicia

Happy Hour and Sunset Drinks at Castaway (Wilson’s Beach Bar)-  Our evening at Castaway was the best.  We drank amazing happy hour cocktails, ate too much fried food, and watched a perfect sunset.  The environment was so charming, we loved it!castaway_happy_hour_Things_To_Do_in_Rarotonga_Ciaofelicia

Charlie’s Cafe- They are famous for their fish sandwiches which did live up to the hype.  They’re HUGE and the sauce was delicious!  Also, make sure to head down their stairs to the beach and get a photo on the perfect Instagram palm trees that are right there. You’re welcome. 😉palm_tree_Things_To_Do_in_Rarotonga_Ciaofelicia

What Else You Need to Know

Customs-  The customs line was long and they were pretty strict.  Make sure to have a copy of your home-bound flight handy because they will ask to see it.  You also get 30 minutes of free wifi, so cherish it because that will be the only free wifi you will get in Rarotonga!

Renting a Scooter- To rent a Scooter, you need a license.  To get a license, you have to go to the police station, take a couple of tests and pay some money.  We got to the police station at 10:30 am on Saturday.  They took $20 from us to start the process, and then informed us that we couldn’t take the test until Monday….. sorry, what?

I don’t know what the process is like after that because we never got our license or rented a scooter. 🙁

Moral of the story:  Get your license early in the morning if you go on a Saturday.  The station (and literally everything else) is closed on Sunday.

 

Have you been?  What do you think are the best things to do in Rarotonga, Cook Islands?

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Author: ciaofelicia

Hi! I’m Felicia. I am a 23 year old traveler originally from Huntington Beach, CA and currently living in Auckland, New Zealand. I graduated from California State University, Fullerton in May 2016. After graduation, I didn't have a "dream career" in mind, so I followed my heart and have been finding ways to make money as I travel the world ever since! I plan to travel and learn more about the world than I ever did in school. Traveling is a passion of mine. I love seeing the beauty of our world through architecture, nature, and people. I love connecting with people without being able to speak the same language. I love being in an unfamiliar place alone and stepping outside of my comfort zone. But I don’t know what I want to do yet. I plan to travel the world for as long as possible instead of "adulting." Until I figure it out, will you go on this adventure with me?

16 thoughts on “The Best Things To Do in Rarotonga, Cook Islands

  1. This looks like an absolutely magical place, and UGH that poke bowl looks to die for!!! I’d love to go to the cook islands, I just wish it was a bit closer to me! They’re so hard to get to from the UK, but it looks like it would be worth it 🙂

  2. Cook Islands have been popping up on my radar recently, I think this means I need to plan a trip! It looks like such a wonderful island getaway, I’ll go anywhere with a refreshing smoothie 🙂 Thanks!

  3. First of all – love the blog name! The progressive dinner and weaving class look like so much fun, and swimming at Black Rock looks like a dream!

  4. Hi Felicia,
    You took me away from California to this beautiful land almost instantly! I enjoyed reading your post. Those vibrant pictures are luring me to visit this place. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I’ve never heard of The Cook Islands or Rarotonga, but you make tit LOOK LIKE A DREAM! That drink you had at the market looks absolutely amazing. All of your food pictures made me immediately hungry. I am definitely putting Rarotonga on my list when I make it that way!

  6. What a wonderful experience. I have yet to go, but now I know exactly what I’ll want to do. I love to snorkel and it looks like a wonderful spot to do it!

  7. We were there in Feb 2018. Only one word to describe our experience. Awesome. We stayed at Moana Sands Beach Resort. I will gladly stay there again on my return trip.

  8. A good write up of Raro. We have been 4 years in a row and 3 times to Aitutaki as well, we are heading for our 5th time shortly. It is really paradise to visit, we have not grown tired of it, it’s like visiting for the 1st time. love the people love the food and love the scenery. We normally stay at The Sunset Resort. A trully heaven on earth, and Aitutake has the most beautifull lagoons in the world and the water is a bluest of blues that you can ever imagine, go on the Vaka and you will have a ball.

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